As a veteran of the building and construction industry, I talk a lot about insulation and how important it is to properly insulate a home. It’s essential to meeting code, increasing energy efficiency and preventing air and moisture infiltration.
But another equally important topic that sometimes gets less attention is how important--and easy--air sealing while insulating can be. The home should be considered as an overall system that needs to be insulated and sealed to ensure a tight building envelope. In the case of most remodeling jobs, for example, contractors are on the job to make upgrades, build an extra bedroom or move a wall. By combining aesthetic fixes with energy efficient upgrades, you not only have yourself a bigger job and an additional business opportunity, but are providing your customer with real value by lowering their monthly energy bills.
More and more energy companies across the country are offering homeowner rebates on upgrades completed--providing additional incentive for customers to ask you, their residential construction professional, to seal their home’s building envelope. Check to see if your local utility company is offering a rebate and bring the information directly to your customers to show that you care about their home and their energy bills.
As a bit of background information, it is important to know that air leaks are not limited to obvious places like openings around doors and windows. Other places that need to be considered to avoid drafts and air leakage include:
- Gaps where the band joist and sill plate meet the foundation or where walls are set on the subfloor
- Holes where pipes and wires go through walls
- Holes between attics or crawlspaces and the conditioned part of the house
- Gaps around built-in features like fireplaces and cabinets
If you or your customers still need a bit more convincing about why you should be air sealing while insulating or working on other remodeling jobs, here are some statistics that might help:
- Most average 2,500-square-foot homes in the U.S. have more than a half-mile of cracks and crevices, according to the Air Barrier Association.
- Random air infiltration through those gaps and cracks is a leading cause of energy loss in homes, accounting for 25 to 40 percent of the energy loss in most residential structures, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Energy loss through gaps and cracks is highest in un-insulated and under-insulated homes.